Carbon Leakage and the Argument from No Difference

Environmental Values 24 (4):535-52 (2015)
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Critics of carbon mitigation often appeal to what Jonathan Glover has called ‘the argument from no difference’: that is, ‘If I don’t do it, someone else will’. Yet even if this justifies continued high emissions by the industrialised countries, it cannot excuse business as usual. The North’s emissions might not harm the victims of climate change in the sense of making them worse off than they would otherwise be. Nevertheless, it receives benefits produced at the latter’s expense, with the result that it has more than it deserves, and that victims will have less. This enrichment is unjust; unjustly enriched agents ought to make compensation. The best form of compensation is vigorous action against climate change.
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